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Acoustics in production

Mission & Vision

People think of "Industry 4.0" mainly in terms of autonomous machines, collaborative robots, and the internet of things. But there is more to it! From the angle of acoustics, "Industry 4.0" is nothing but a whole new dimension of communication, in terms of both scope and medium. "Industry 4.0" means an increase in intercultural and virtual teams, mobile digital workplaces and, thus, also in smart-phone and video-call communication; and it means human-machine interaction and speech communication in noise.

New types of teams and new means of digital communication place new demands on leadership, presentation and negotiation skills, and offer new perspectives for boosting the innovative power of companies. The close collaboration of humans and machines poses new challenges for speech synthesis, speech recognition, and sound design as well as for smart approaches to noise and related health issues.

In order to find innovative solutions to the acoustic challenges of tomorrow, the Mads Clausen Institute (MCI) has created the dynamic, interdisciplinary working group "Acoustics in Production". Embedded in the new Centre for Industrial Electronics (CIE), the "Acoustics in Production" team works closely with industrial partners on both sides of the German-Danish border. This results in problem-driven cutting-edge contributions to acoustic research in general as well as in tailor-made applications and services for our stakeholders in the region.

Our R&D approach is inspired by biotechnology. That is, our take on noise, sound design, digital communication, and digital leadership training is shaped by the unique signal for which the link between acoustics and feeling is "hardwired" in our brains: human speech or, more specifically, its rich repertoire of sounds and melodies. We believe that the answers to the communication questions raised by "Industry 4.0" lie at the interface between the biological foundations of human speech on the one hand and coordinated software and engineering solutions on the other.

Our fields of research

Human-machine interaction (TTS, ASR, acoustic filters)

  • Strupka, Eszter/Niebuhr, Oliver/Fischer, Kerstin (2016): Influence of Robot Gender and Speaker Gender on Prosodic Entrainment in HRI.
  • Interactive Session at the IEEE International Symposium on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN 2016), New York City. 
  • FKK - funded project on " Improving Second Language Pedagogy at the Prosody-Pragmatics Interface Using Human-Robot Interaction". Read more... 

Human-human interaction (e.g., speech enhancement, business communication)

  • Niebuhr, O. & A. Nazaryan (2019). Money Talks - But Less Well so over the Mobile Phone? The Persistence of the Telephone Voice in a 4G Technology Setting and the Resulting Implications for Business Communication and Mobile-Phone Innovation. International Journal of Innovation and Technology Management 16. View publication
  • Velux-funded research project on Hate Speech.

Machine optimization (w.r.t. unwanted noises or desired sounds)

Stimulation of creativity and innovation   

  • Niebuhr, O., Voße, J. and Brem, A. (2016). What makes a charismatic speaker? A computer-based acoustic-prosodic analysis of Steve Jobs tone of voice. Journal of Computers in Human Behavior, 64: 366–382. View publication
  • Niebuhr, O., Tegtmeier, S. and Schweißfurth, T. (2019). Female speakers benefit more than male speakers from prosodic charisma training – A before-after analysis of 12-week and 4-hour courses. Frontiers in Communication. View publication
  • Niebuhr, O. and Gonzalez, S. (2019).  Do sound segments contribute to sounding charismatic? Evidence from a case study of Steve Jobs' and Mark Zuckerberg's vowel spaces. International Journal of Acoustics and Vibration 24.
  • PERCY project.

Lab and equipment

The CIE's "Acoustics in Production" team is equipped with almost 60 m² lab space in the new CIE building on SDU campus Sonderborg. At the heart of the lab is, firstly, a sound-proof booth for hi-end and multi-channel 3D acoustic-signal recordings and, secondly, a 3D acoustic ambiance simulation that puts humans in realistic noise/sound conditions (e.g., pre-recorded at the facilities of regional stakeholders) in order to test their behavioral or physiological reactions. Moreover, the lab features an innovative, mobile Head-And-Torso-Simulator (HATS) for human-like sound/noise recordings and 4 PC workstations equipped with state-of-the-art software for digital signal processing, speech synthesis/recognition, and psychoacoustic experiments.

Our international research partners

Aarhus University (Linguistics), Kiel University (Digital Signal Processing), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, TU Munich (School of Management), University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (Technology Management), Campinas University (Electrical Engineering), Boston University (Linguistics), University of Texas/El Paso (Computer Science), University Pompeu Fabra/Barcelona (Phonetics), Charles University Prague (Speech Technology), Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore/Milan.

Our services

Machine noise measurement and certification, Assessment of machine sounds and sound design,  Speech enhancement measures and vocal-health consulting,  Customized acoustic filters in digital (tele)communications, Development and customization (e.g., to company-specific noise conditions) of speech synthesis and speech recognition systems, Digital leadership and public-speaker training (award winning concept, BHJ Innovation Award 2018).


Talk directly to our expert about your opportunities within acoustics:

Oliver Niebuhr

Associate Professor of Communication and Innovation

SDU Electrical Engineering and CIE, The Mads Clausen Institute

Phone: +45 65506471

University of Southern Denmark

Alsion 2, DK-6400 Sønderborg

SEFOS 2019 - 1st international Seminar on the Foundations of Speech

1-3 December 2019 in Sønderborg, Denmark